Two Years

Two years ago today Duke and I were married. I’ve been thinking all day what I can say that won’t sound trite.  And I didn’t come up with anything. All I can say is I fell very very lucky and I can’t image being happier. So I guess I’ll be trite anyway. I wouldn’t have believed it but  🙂 Your dreams can come true it can happen to you!

Informational Interviews and Why I Blog

Last April I wrote a entry on my Sun Blog  about why I like to Blog. I want to add two things to that list based on my experience changing jobs and beginning to explore ways to get financial planning experience.

Blogging is a great way to reflect who you are to potential employers. When I first sent my resume to Intuit I also put the resume on my blog. In my cover letter I mentioned my blog. I know that the blog is not why I was hired but I know that my new boss read the blog and I think it helped me  market myself. I should note though that the purpose of the blog is not to market myself but because my blog reflects who I am it does in fact become a marketing tool.

Blogging helps you implement learn – teach – learn. I am a great believer in informational interviews. My daughters get sick of me urging them to set up informational interviews with  people who work in the fields they are interested in.  I’ve done a few informational interviews lately and I think blogging about them has been a great way to crystallize my learning.  Intuit talks about the idea of learn teach learn that is what blogging facilitates. First I learn something. Then I blog about it and as a result I learn more.

Scalability

When I looked for a definition of the word scalable I discovered it is a buzz word that hasn’t made it into the mainstream dictionaries. The webopedia definition says that scalable refers to how well a hardware or software system reacts to increased demands.

I was in a meeting the other day where scalability came up. I’m sure you’ve had those kinds of conversations. One person told their  scalability story and then the next person had a better one and so on. I mentioned the Vatican web site’s need to be scalable when the Pope died (Sun systems helped with that). Someone else mentioned Visa’s need to be scalable at Christmas time but  my favorite was the Intuit person who told us the very large number of income tax returns that Intuit’s TurboTax for the Web filed in the 36 hours before the filing deadline. The number of returns filed per minute was staggering. And as she said just imagine the consequences if the system had not been able to handle the load. I doubt that the IRS would have been very forgiving for late filings if the reason had been Intuit’s system failed. Luckily Intuit’s system is highly scalable and very reliable.

So I’d love to hear some other scalability stories. I bet there are some good ones out there.

Why Web Based Applications are Becoming so Popular

I’ve talked about the Application Service Provider (ASP) model in a previous post. When I say ASP model I mean not running the application or keeping my data on my computer but instead  letting the application company host the application so that all I have to do it access the application and my data through a browser. As I said I really like the advantages of storing my data on the web. I don’t have to do backups and it is accessible.  In a recent posting John Montgomery of Microsoft talked about why we continue to use ASP applications when the user interfaces and functionality aren’t as good as those for the applications hosted on our own machines. I think his reasons are valid although I never think about the technology catching up. For me the advantage of being able to access my data from any browser and having someone else host my application so that I don’t have to be a system administrator is incentive enough.  And in a lot of cases I think the applications are as good or better.

I mentioned Plaxo in my earlier post. I recently sent out an update with my new email address and phone number to everyone in my address book. It has been so much fun to get updates from all my friends and catch up on what they are up to. Plaxo provides functionality that I’ve never had on a locally based application.

Another ASP based application that I have been very impressed with in the short time that I have been aware of it is Right Now. It is customer support software that is used  by Intuit for Quicken Medical Expense Manager  and for  Quicken Rental Property Manager. Right Now provides an easy way to manage and update common questions and answers and the customer support user interface.

Another very successful ASP model software package is QuickBooks Online Edition.  In this case although the functionality is less than the desktop version I suspect that  the quality of  the application, the fact that the user doesn’t have to administer his or her system, and the ability to access the application from anywhere have led to the success of the product. I should note that although I work at Intuit I don’t work in the QuickBooks organization and my observations are very much those of an outsider.

Bottom line is that while some applications are still better on the desktop than being run through a browser there are many other applications that I would much rather run through the web.

Gold Country Weekend

I had a great weekend.  Friends of ours have a second home up in the gold country and they invited Duke and I to spend the weekend with them. Friday night we took the scenic route up to Sacramento along the delta. We stopped at  Isleton  for dinner at the River’s Edge Cafe. We had a great home made lunch  there a few months ago and the home made pasta we had Friday night was also delicious.

On Saturday we all went to the Empire Gold Mine. It is a state park now but it is the site of  the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. We toured the house and explored several of the old mine buildings including the black smith shop and the room containing a scale model of the more than 300 miles of tunnels in the mine. I’m always fascinated by these kinds of places where you can get a real sense of the technology and the history.

Saturday night after dinner we all sat on the back deck and enjoyed looking at the stars through Ray’s telescope. I got to see Jupiter and four of its moon. It was very cool.  It was a very relaxing wonderful weekend.

Capitalism must be Humanized

I subscribe to 164 feeds in Bloglines. It is almost impossible to read all of them and stay current so I have created my A1 list that I always enjoy reading and always read first before any other blogs. There are 11 blogs on my A1 list.  One of the blogs on my A1 list is Speak up by Richard Edelman. Edelman is president of the world’s largest independent public relations firm.  He only posts occasionally but his posts are always thought provoking and he is such a good communicator that you can understand why he is as successful as he is.

In his latest post Edelman discusses the role of PR in the future and how it fits into the way markets are changing and communications is evolving. I especially liked the paragraph which he introduced with a quote from futurist Andrew Zolli, “the consumer must be treated differently, allowed to become part of the
“experience economy.” He believes that capitalism must be humanized”. This is at the heart of what I believe about successful customer support and is part of what I hope to create and deliver at Intuit.

 

Intuit Blogs

I’m sure you are all dying to know if I made it to work on time today 🙂  Yep, I did. Instead of the hour and 15 minutes it took yesterday it only took 40 minutes  today so I was early which I much prefer.

It was quite a productive day and I discovered two more Intuit blogs. I already regularly read the Official Quickbooks Online Weblog.   The Rental Property Manager group has also just started a an official blog.  Both of these are group blogs. On the Rental Property Manager Blog they are trying out the idea of pointing users to the product forum to make comments. It will be interesting to see how it works. Group blogs like these and the Tom Peters Weblog have a different flavor than individual blogs but I still enjoy reading them. I think they are strongest when the personalities of the individuals and of the team come through.

I’m also going to enjoy reading the blog one of my co-workers has started.  Christine Rimer’s  blog chronicles the  progress in creating a Quicken team blog. These are exciting times. It will be very interesting to see what kind of an impact blogging has.